Littlest artists thrive at Little Chick’s

Camas business offers art classes for children ages 2 to 12

Students at Little Chick's Art Play, in Camas, learn about shapes as well as other art elements, such as colors, lines, form, texture, value and space.

About Little Chick’s Art Play

What: A Camas business offering children’s art classes

Where: 106 S.E. Weir St., Suite 4

Who: Most classes are for ages 4-10, but some are for younger/older children

Contact: 360-861-6278 or info@littlechicksartplay.org

More info: visit www.littlechicksartplay.org

Sophia Buchett, 7, and Megan Kunz, 8, both of Washougal, create dioramas during an "Art Across America" class at Little Chick's Art Play. The business' owner/instructor, Jeryl Swanson, said she enjoys the challenge of opening up children's creativity and combining art in education.

Signage is designed to inspire youngsters at Little Chick's Art Play, where students typically range in age from 4 to 10. A "Meet the Masters" art class, for students age 10 to 12, will begin in February.

Sophia Buchett, 7, of Washougal, enjoys painting an image of the Washington State bird, an American Goldfinch, during an "Art Across America" class, at Little Chick's Art Play. (Photos by Dawn Feldhaus/Post-Record)

There are several important components for a successful children’s art program — acrylic paint, glue sticks and markers in colorful shades such as sunset orange, yellow blaze and deep sea blue, as well as an enthusiastic teacher and youngsters who are eager to learn.

All of these components can be found at a local business, Little Chick’s Art Play, in Camas.

The owner/instructor, Jeryl Swanson, 57, is a former preschool teacher in Vancouver and Battle Ground who used to provide art play opportunities for children at a Burgerville, Spanky’s Consignment, Open House Ministries and book fairs at Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School, all in Vancouver.

“I would bring art to kids,” she said. “Parents asked for classes.”

Before opening the art play business near the Camas-Washougal border, Swanson had classes and special events in an area above Lil’ Dudes and Divas, in downtown Camas.

She defines art play as an invitation to engage in the materials around you to discover your true art interests.

Swanson said she has enjoyed drawing, writing, creating handmade books, listening to music and dancing since she was a child.

She studied elementary education for two years at Wayne State College, in Wayne, Nebraska, before moving to Oregon and becoming a wife and mother of two.

As her children grew up, Swanson worked as a playground aide at their elementary school for three years.

“It was at that time that I learned about woodworking and became “Bless Your Heart Creations,” she said.

Swanson created and painted pieces of wood decor, something she still enjoys.

“I had many life changes, but always found my way back to art, which eventually became Little Chick’s Art Play,” she said. “My feelings about art and its importance for kids has kept me going for the past seven years.”

Swanson said art is healing, expressive and important.

“It defines me,” she said. “If I can touch the life of one child through art, then I have made a difference. I feel that I have done that and will continue to do so.”

Ethan Cole, 10, of Washougal, has taken several of Swanson’s art classes during the past year. His favorite activity at Little Chick’s Art Play involves abstract painting, and his favorite artist is Henri Matisse, a French painter, printmaker and sculptor who died in 1954.

Cole said he wants to design video games, when he grows up.

His father, Ryan Cole, said his son’s participation in the art classes provide opportunities for friendship and socialization.

“Art is a good outlet for him and his emotions,” Ryan Cole said.

Sophia Buchett, 7, of Washougal, recently enjoyed painting an image of an American Goldfinch, the Washington State bird, during a class at Little Chick’s Art Play.

While eating fruit flavored snacks, Buchett said her favorite art project involved making a swan with sculpting clay, in December 2017.

Cruz Alexander, 7, of Camas, also enjoyed the sculpting project at Little Chick’s Art Play. He created a sculpture of a non-edible candy cane.

Megan Kunz, 8, of Washougal, attended her first Little Chick’s Art Play class this month. She had fun drawing lines and later, painting an image of a goldfinch.

Sally Kunz said her daughter has always loved art.

“This is something local to utilize,” Sally Kunz said. “She can try more techniques — with oil painting and sculptures — beyond what we do at home.”

Swanson said she enjoys the challenge of opening up children’s creativity and combining art in education.

“Kids want to try new things,” she said. “Some of the kids are not allowed to paint at home.”

The students at Little Chick’s Art Play generally range in age from 4 to 10. However, Swanson will teach an art class, “Meet the Masters,” for students ages 10 to 12, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., on Fridays, starting Feb. 2.

It will include information about up to 35 past and present famous artists and opportunities to create art that reflects each artist.

“The art itself will be more advanced, and there will be visiting outside artists coming in to share their art and background,” Swanson said.

She will offer a “Mom and Me” program, featuring songs, stories and art, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., on Wednesdays, starting Feb. 7. It is for children, ages 2 to 4, with parent participation.

A boutique, featuring an assortment of finished art projects that are available to purchase, is located next to the Little Chick’s Art Play classroom. The featured artists pay Swanson to display their works in the boutique.

Swanson’s opportunities to share her love of art with children will increase in February when she will participate in an art residency program for first and second graders at Gause Elementary School, in Washougal. That will involve creating paper mache and folktale art.